RAISE A GLASS - TO YOUR HEALTH!
Japan's distilled alcoholic beverage, shochu, pairs wonderfully with meals or as a refreshing cocktail. Made from basic ingredients such as sweet potato, barley, rice, etc., shochu offers a myriad of delicious and distinctive tastes and aromas. It can be served blended with hot water, cold water, on the rocks, or with different beverages such as juices or teas. It is this versatility that makes shochu such a fun and appealing drink.
A VOTRE SANTE
This French expression used when making a toast, meaning "to your health," is more than applicable when raising a glass of shochu! Shochu is believed to have numerous health benefits, of which three in particular are the most regaled: 1) shochu is said to keep the blood thinner, resulting in a healthy, smooth flow; 2) shochu imbibers are said to have fewer hangovers with shochu as opposed to other alcoholic beverages; 3) shochu contains no sugar.
Honkaku shochu, the type of shochu produced using the single distillation method, contains more of the blood clot dissolving enzyme called urokinase than other alcoholic beverages. For instance, red wine also contains clot-busting properties and polyphenols, but the amount of urokinase in shochu is 1.5 times the amount in red wine. Healthy blood flow equals healthy blood vessels, and that means that all the cells in the body are receiving a nourishing supply of fresh blood which promotes healthy, glowing skin, healthy brain function, and is also said to prevent signs of aging. We might say that honkaku shochu is a magical, health promoting elixir that helps to keep us young!*
*To get the most benefits from shochu, it is recommended that a daily serving of 25% alcohol shochu should be limited to 120 ml or less.
There are so many ways to enjoy shochu! Here are some of our favorites.
Oyuwari(blended with hot water)
The proper way to prepare oyuwari is to first fill your glass with some hot water, then add the shochu. The difference in the temperatures of the two liquids allows them to mix naturally. Also, remember to never use boiling water; about 158˚F is ideal, as it is when the water is at this temperature that you can enjoy a heightened flavor experience.
Mizuwari(blended with cold water)
To best enjoy the flavor of mizuwari, the traditional method says you should first add the shochu, then the water to your glass. Standard proportions for both mizuwari and oyuwari are six parts shochu to four parts water, but feel free to adjust according to your personal taste. Chilled water is recommended for mizuwari, and, if possible, soft rather than hard water.
Place a big chunk of ice (or a couple of ice cubes) in a good-sized glass and slowly pour the shochu over the ice. The first sip or two will have the strong flavor of straight shochu, but as the ice slowly melts, more of the fragrance of the shochu will be released, and you will find the taste becomes mellower. The shochu aficionado tends to prefer shochu this way!
Typical proportions for cocktails such as chuhai are one part shochu to two to four parts flavored soda water. A squeeze of fresh citrus, like lemon, lime or grapefruit adds a nice refreshing taste. Shochu can be blended with umeshu, green tea, oolong tea, vegetable or fruit juice, even coffee (!) for delicious cocktails.